Senior MEPs are plotting to change the European Parliament’s rules to starve Eurosceptic parties of European Union (EU) money. Along with changing the rules so that smaller parties will no longer receive cash, they also propose funding only groups which comply with “European values”.
A report drawn up by Secretary General of the European Parliament Klaus Welle recommends that parties should have at least 22 MEPs to be eligible for EU money. This, and other measures proposed, would ensure small parties wouldn’t receive funding from the EU, and that large parties would be allocated more.
Mr. Welle, called the “Prince of Darkness” by some for the huge influence the never-elected politician wields, was asked to write the report after the European People’s Party (EPP) head, Manfred Weber, wrote to Mr. Welle to complain that right-wing parties who received EU funds were organising anti-EU protests.
The EPP, said to be centre-right, is the largest grouping in the European Parliament. The UK’s Conservative party left the European Parliament group in 2009, opposing the EPP’s commitment to European federalism.
Mr. Welle proposed parties should have a minimum of seven MEPs in order to qualify for EU cash. His report went even further, suggesting the minimum should be 22 MEPs.
Currently, parties can receive funding if they received more than three per cent of the vote in European parliamentary elections, or if it has representatives in seven different regional and national assemblies.
“A handful of politicians only able to contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the political will of citizens of the Union on an extremely limited and not representative level hardly justifies financial support from the European Union budget,” Mr. Welle wrote.
“A strengthening of the minimum representation criteria could remedy this situation, at least for the allocation of funds.”
A Parliament administration official said: “There is a big common funding pot for all European political parties, so the more of these that meet the entry criteria, the more the pot gets spread around.”
Senior MEPs also recommended an “independent authority” be created to oversee funding for political parties and foundations. Such an authority, they suggested, would have to judge whether the parties comply with “European values” in order to receive EU cash.
EPP spokesman Pedro Lopez de Pablo welcomed the report. He said: “The change of the rules is necessary to avoid the European Parliament’s money being used by populist parties against Europe.”
The report’s plan will be passed on to the EU’s Constitutional Affairs Committee. If passed, it would be activated in 2018.
However, a recruitment notice obtained by Politico seems to suggest the EU may already be putting one of the proposals into action. The notice advertises for a “Director of the Authority of the European political parties and European political foundations”. The position comes with a wage of €128k per annum.
It states that whoever fills the role will be “registering, controlling and imposing of sanctions on European political parties and European political foundations”.